MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Leading 1-0, 20th-ranked West Virginia allowed two second half goals in a span of six minutes to drop its season opener to La Salle, 2-1, Friday evening at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
“Anytime you’re up a goal and you let a team come back and score two, it’s very disappointing,” said coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “I thought La Salle worked very hard for its result.”
A header from midfielder Jourdan McVicker in the 65th minute off an Explorer corner kick was the game-winner.
La Salle tied the match at the 59:17 mark behind forward Leigh Gray’s first goal of the season. Gray was left unmarked on a cross from Renee Washington on the left side.
“Our youth showed tonight, and unfortunately, our seniors broke down in the second half,” said Izzo-Brown. “Freshmen can make mistakes, but upperclassmen need to clean that up.”
The Mountaineers took a 1-0 lead into the half behind a quick goal from defender Bry McCarthy
. The senior intercepted a pass just inside the midfield line, dribbled into the box and ripped a shot past goalkeeper Gabby Pakhtigian from 10 yards out.
McCarthy’s goal came just 1:18 into the match – the fastest goal scored by a Mountaineer all-time at Dick Dlesk.
Despite two goals allowed, WVU goalkeeper Sara Keane
played very well, finishing with five spectacular saves. The sophomore also denied a penalty kick try from Kelsey Haycook in the 84th minute.
Keane denied Washington on a thru ball up the middle in the 65th minute, punching the ball wide of the goal on a breakaway.
“I thought I did play well but the ultimate goal is a team result, and it wasn’t good enough tonight,” said Keane when asked of her play. “We have to get better right away. And that means starting tomorrow.”
La Salle registered 12 second half shots on its way to outshooting WVU 14-9 on the night. Midfielder Jackie Cammarata took a game-best four shots.
The victory extends the Explorers’ regular season win streak to 20 games, dating back to October 29, 2010.
Three different players recorded two shots each to pace the Mountaineers, who started four true freshmen.
West Virginia closes out the weekend with a 1 p.m. home match against Western Carolina on Sunday, Aug. 19.